The South African National Parks (SANParks) has praised the bravery and dedication of firefighters in their efforts to contain the fire that caused massive destruction after it started in the Table Mountain National Park on Sunday.
Those involved in containing the fire included the volunteers, City of Cape Town (CoCT) Fire, Rescue Services and Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) rangers, amongst others.
“The devastating fires across the TMNP have brought home the value of partnerships and working together as a community to manage this National Park we all love.
“Without the collective efforts of the 125 TMNP rangers, the 170 fire and rescue workers, the South African National Defence Force, CoCT personnel, law enforcement and the many volunteers, the damage, as devastating as it was, could have been much worse,” said SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mketeni said the immediacy of the reactions of fire-fighting teams from all areas of the Western Cape, their skill, courage and commitment ensured that the fire was mostly contained by Monday afternoon.
The Rhodes Memorial Fire was reported at 9am on Sunday morning.
The TMNP/ contract wildfire crews (NCC Wildfire) from the Newlands Firebase were dispatched immediately.
TMNP Fire Manager, Philip Prins, co-ordinated the firefighters on the line from TMNP, NCC Wildfires, Working on Fire, CoCT Fire and Rescue Services and Volunteer Wildfire Services.
TMNP and the CoCT had four helicopters operating in the area. The SA Air Force also made available two helicopters to assist with the fire.
“We also thank our 120 rangers who manage and protect this vast area of more than 28,000 hectares, recognising the many challenges they face.
“To manage an urban park stretching from Signal Hill to Cape Point, we rely heavily on our communities to assist, alert and raise the alarm on disasters like this, which is exactly what happened on Sunday morning,” Mketeni said.
SANParks also commended the generosity shown by the community of Cape Town to those firefighters and also to those most affected by the fire, most notably the 4 000 University of Cape Town students who had to be evacuated from their residences.
“The outpouring of support on an emotional level was matched if not surpassed by the generosity of donations of food, water and other necessities from businesses and communities,” Mketeni said.
SANParks estimates that the fire has destroyed 600 hectares of land in the TMNP thus far.
An independent investigation is being carried out on the causes and the origin of the fire.
SANParks will facilitate a platform for a series of discussions on the complex topic of managing fire in the park.